Wimbledon diary: Dimitrov & Sharapova show support

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Sharapova and Dimitrov regularly attend eachother's matches.

Grigor Dimitrov was in a good mood after beating Steve Johnson yesterday which is probably why he indulged the media and answered some cheeky questions about girls, namely his main girl Maria Sharapova.

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The Bulgarian world No11 was told by a journalist that Boris Becker had tipped him to be the next big thing in tennis provided he didn’t get distracted, to which Dimitrov responded: “I’m always distracted,” he said laughing. “Kidding. Depends on what kind of distractions we are talking about here.

“Obviously I know Boris is… he’s a great guy and I always had a good relationship with him. Even when we see each other in the locker room, he always smiles at me and we always have a little bit of a chat. 

“I get the meaning behind that, and I appreciate all the words that he had to say about me. I would love when that day when I can prove everyone wrong and also prove to myself I can be the best I can.”

Dimitrov and his girlfriend Sharapova were scheduled for back-to-back matches on Court 2 yesterday but neither one of them were able to head out to the stands to support the other due to their own pre and post-match rituals.

“I would love to (go out and watch her), but I’ve got to take care of my body and talk to you guys. There are a lot of things I need to do before that. And she finished quite fast,” said Dimitrov.

Asked if they ever analysed each others’ games, he said: “It’s always good when you have a grand slam champion on your side. Obviously it helps. One tip can change everything for you, one sentence. It’s always good to have that on your side. Of course it’s a plus, appreciating advice and anything that comes from her.”

However, Sharapova gave quite the formal answer when asked about how they navigate their lives when they’re at the same tournament and whether they discuss each others’ games.

“I think we’re quite professional in what we do. We try to separate our match times and go about our business as we would in any other careers, respect each other very much. When we’re out here, we’re doing our job and trying to do the best we can,” said the five-time major champion.

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Ivanovic crashes out of Wimbledon by Mattek-Sands

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Wait continues: Ivanovic has not made it past the fourth round at Wimbledon since 2007.

Ana Ivanovic became the third women’s top-10 seed to crash out of Wimbledon courtesy an all-out attack from American qualifier Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who beat the world number seven 6-3, 6-4 in the second round. 

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Mattek-Sands, a former world No30 whose ranking has plummeted to 158 due to injury, recorded the sixth top-10 victory of her career, ousting Ivanovic in a mere 69 minutes in which she fired an impressive 32 winners.

“She was aggressive. She was coming in a lot. I thought she was hitting a lot of winners. She made some errors, but there was not a rhythm out there, for example like I had in my first match. I kind of expected that. She played well. She served well. Yeah, she definitely did a lot of good things today,” said Ivanovic, who hasn’t made it past the fourth round at Wimbledon since making it to the semi-finals in 2007.

Ivanovic is looking forward to having a training block before her next tournament in Toronto, which starts on August 10, where she plans on rebuilding her fitness.

“I changed my team a little bit. My fitness wasn’t at all at the level I wanted it to be. In the French Open (made semis) I really worked hard and tried to get a level up. I played really well,” said Ivanovic.

“Since then I’ve been working really, really hard. I felt like I improved a lot. Also I was working a lot throughout the tournaments. 

“Actually now I’m looking forward to having some time off and doing proper preparation because that’s what I’ve been lacking. I’ve been playing catch‑up in that area for a while. I have lots of changes within the team. Now I feel like I have solid base.”

Mattek-Sands, who hasn’t made it to the third round at Wimbledon since 2008, is yet to drop a set through five matches – three at Roehampton in qualifying and two at the All England Club. 

“Ana likes to play aggressive and she likes that run-around forehand and she wants to be dictating the points. I really went out there trying to be the first one to do that,” said Mattek-Sands, who plays Belinda Bencic next.   

“I was playing aggressive. I was going to throw in slices and throw in some serve and volleys, and really play aggressive and work my way to the net. That’s grass court tennis, but that’s how I play on all the surfaces.”

Meanwhile, world No1 Serena Williams faced little trouble in her dismissal of Hungarian Timea Babos.

Williams had to wait all day to get on Centre Court after Marin Cilic’s match before lasted for five sets, but she only needed 58 minutes to get off court with a routine 6-4, 6-1 victory.

She and her sister Venus remain on collision course as they both are due to face off in the fourth round. 

Venus, seeded No16, took out Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva 7-6 (5), 6-4 to book a third round with either Aleksandra Krunic or Sara Errani. Serena faces home favourite Heather Watson who is back in the last 32 here for the first time since 2012.

World No4 Maria Sharapova skipped past Dutchwoman Richel Hogenkamp 6-3, 6-1 in 64 minutes to set up a third round with No29 seed Irina-Camelia Begu.

Ex-world No1 Victoria Azarenka and Kristina Mladenovic both earned victories to book a last 32 meeting against each other.

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Nadal tries to make sense of ‘unusual’ challenge of Brown

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Polar opposites: Nadal and Brown’s approaches to the game are very different.

As far as tennis opposites go, Rafael Nadal and Dustin Brown, who face off in the second round at Wimbledon today, are right up there with the best of examples.

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Brown, a German-Jamaican with long dreadlocks and an affinity to wearing mismatching shoes, is one of a handful of true serve-and-volleyers in today’s game, and his style is tailor-made for grass.

He comes to the net any chance he gets, can pull of ‘tweeners’ from the toughest positions and will throw in a diving volley every now and then. If Nadal’s game is about discipline, Brown’s game thrives on chaos.

Brown has beaten Nadal in their only previous meeting, on the grass of Halle last year, in a performance the German described as “the match of his life”.

Nadal, a two-time champion at Wimbledon, will have to prepare himself for a player he calls “unusual”.

Brown is one of only three active players – alongside Borna Coric and Nick Kyrgios – who have a positive head-to-head record against Nadal.

“It is difficult to think about how the match is going to be. He’s not a usual player. Anything can happen,” Nadal said. “He beat me last year on Halle. It is little bit different, the surface and everything. It is a dangerous match. 

“He’s a tough player. He won today against a good opponent like Yen-Hsun Lu. Probably he will come with good confidence. I’m going to try to be ready for it.”

Brown is not putting too much weight on his previous victory over the ex-world number one. The 30-year-old, ranked No102 in the world, is looking to match his best grand slam showing by making the third round. 

“Obviously it’s going to be a great match. I’m very happy that I get to play him again. I don’t worry too much about last year’s match because I probably played the match of my life there,” Brown told Sport360°.

“Grass is the surface I want to play him on but on the other hand he’s a great champion and is the favourite to win. Right now I just want to recover and get ready, come out on Thursday and try to have fun against him. I have no pressure, I’ll try to play my best tennis and see what happens.”

Asked if he felt that Nadal’s invincible aura has diminished or disappeared following the Spaniard’s mixed results this season, Brown added: “I haven’t played against or been anywhere near him in a draw since last year. So I wasn’t worrying so much about him. 

“A few weeks ago I was still playing a Challenger, so when I’m at a Challenger I don’t have to worry about Rafa’s aura. I try to look on the things I need to do and my own tennis.”

Also in action today is 2013 champion Andy Murray, who faces a familiar foe in the form of Dutch world No78 Robin Haase. 

The pair faced off at the US Open last year in a first round that saw Murray overcome severe cramps to triumph in four sets. 

“I don’t know exactly what happened, but I had terrible cramps from very early on in the match. It was a very tough match for me to get through that one,” said Murray.

“But, yeah, he’s a tough opponent. He likes grass. He enjoys playing on the big courts. So it will be tough.”

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